When I ask a lot of mums, 'what is it that makes you happy?' They shudder at the thought of actually knowing what this is.
Many of us are breathing, simply getting through the day to wake up and do the same routine day in and day out. They are not living although existing. Little time is spent on ourselves, mum's and dad's are too busy making sure everyone else around them is ok that they sometimes loose sight of who they are, their needs and what they want out of life. I find mum's especially are not valuing that they are equally important as everyone else in the family. How can you be happy if you don't allow yourself the space to be you?
When I ask mum's, what is their ultimate goal in life is? They say this:
'To be happy and have happy kids'
Is being happy a goal? Or is it a feeling intrinsically that you get from doing something or being with someone you care about.
Is it the emotion that we get when an achievement has been made, either big or small?
The size of the goal is not the object here, although the fact that you have had some wins in life by doing the things that are in line with your identity and your values which are the things that are important to you and therefore are the make up of who you are is what is going to bring the 'happiness' feeling to light.
I was at the Happiness and it's Causes conference last month. Janne Willems a global traveller from the Netherlands pondered this thought. She ask us to draw a picture of what is one thing that has made you happy in the last week. If you can't think of anything in the last week then think of the past month, year etc.
Now I could have drawn a picture of my kids playing soccer, or my sons 7th birthday, or a time when they said something quirky and I smiled. Although that would mean for me that I needed them to entertain me or perhaps wasn't doing something for myself to bring joy. As much as I adore my children and they do bring me so much joy and sadness at times, let's be real. I wanted to think of myself for a moment.
My swim crew = a happy place. Let me set the scene here. I couldn't even swim freestyle 6 months ago, let alone swim in the ocean with the fear of what lies underneath. And yes, I'm still challenged every time I brave the cold winter water in my wetsuit. Although the buzz and adrenaline that comes over me is what keeps me going. Not just from swimming, although the people too. I never thought I would have the courage to do ocean swimming, let alone in the winter being so far out of my comfort zone. I was struggling in the first four weeks of learning to swim, along with being in the ocean that's for sure. So much that I would be FULL of anxiety and dread, literally feeling sick every Saturday morning before my swim. I would dream up things, wake up early with the doom and gloom at the thought of entering the big blue sea. All the critters and stingers, argh......... My husband said to me 'just quit, it's not worth all this stress'. He either knew me really well or didn't have a clue. Well, turns out he knew that by telling me to quit would spur me on to prove to myself it was possible.
Although what got me through this was a tribe a people that had sheer belief that it was possible. Not many of us reach our goals on our own.
So for me, what makes me happy is the connection of the right soulful people in my life. A tribe of people with a common goal that all want each other to succeed in whatever is in front of them. Without competition or bitterness to be better than each other, although encouraging at whatever pace you are at and that it's ok be where you are at capability wise and just getting in the water is the start. Even if you have a meltdown, that they have your back. A group of people you can turn to when it's all too hard and you feel emotionally down. Someone to raise you up in the most challenging of times. To help YOU create the belief in your own abilities. The thing is, we are all capable of so much, we just need a little shove sometimes.
I have injuries from swimming, the fear still creeps in sometimes (not as much though, as confidence stems from doing something over and over again) and knowing the statistics that it would be rare to be confronted by a shark helps. I have my emotional intelligence strategies I use regularly too when a sneaky bit of anxiety creeps in unexpectedly when your swimming. But, the things that challenge us are the same things that can give us the ultimate reward, fulfilment and happiness.
My kids are grateful that I go out swimming, as this in return means for them that they have a present mum that is so delighted when she gets home from doing something she loves, her adrenaline has accentuated and she is running around, singing, and being so happy that they too are buzzing from her energy and we are all together in a bubble of happiness.
It also shows my children that I'm important too and that life isn't all about them and me bowing to their every request. It teaches them in return that you should not give up when the times are challenging by being resilient. Kids can learn so much in life from us leading by example. My proudest moments are when my kids say, 'Mum I'm proud of you'. It melts my heart.
So, what are you doing for yourself to bring intrinsic happiness to your life? It could be a walk in the park, it could be picking up that musical instrument, joining a team sport, getting to that yoga class, reading a book you have put off doing or come join me for a paddle in the ocean.
When you find something you love and cherish then you will start to not only breath although you will start to feel alive.
Happy mum = Happy kids = Happy life